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Risotto rules: how to cook the perfect risotto

by Myles Williamson
Risotto rules: how to cook the perfect risotto
Image: Tara Fisher

Everyone loves a creamy and comforting bowl of risotto. Follow our 8 top tips to cooking the perfect risotto, whatever the occasion...

1. Choose the right rice

There are different types of traditional risotto rice. Carnaroli, often referred to at the ‘king’ of risotto rice, holds its shape best and produces a creamy result. Arborio is slightly smaller and will produce a soft, comforting risotto, though it’s more prone to overcooking.

2. ...and the right amount

As a general rule, 60g per person is perfect for a starter, light meal, or if you’ve bulked out the dish with other ingredients. For more generous portions, go with 75g each.

3. Use hot stock

Whatever type of risotto you’re making, use piping hot stock – it means the grains will start to soften and cook straight away. It’s a good idea to keep your stock in a covered pan over a very low heat on the back of the hob while the risotto cooks.

4. Measure your stock

Ladle sizes vary, so aim to add enough stock to just cover the rice with each addition, so the grains can cook evenly (about 1 large ladle, or 2 smaller ones). Make sure all the rice is just covered as you don’t want to leave uncooked grains at the top of your pan.

Image: Tara Fisher
Image: Tara Fisher

5. Add your stock little and often

Make sure you stir your risotto occasionally, every few minutes or so, to help bring out the starch and produce a creamy result. Stirring too often will cool the mix and prevent the rice from cooking properly. Don’t stir enough and the grains will stick to the pan and cook unevenly.

6. Let it rest

Always let your risotto rest, loosely covered, for about 5 minutes, so it settles. By doing this, it won’t thicken up again (through evaporation) as it’s being served, and won’t be too hot to eat.

7. Leave a little bite

With all risottos you’re looking for the rice to be just, as the Italians say, ‘al dente’, which literally translates as ‘to the tooth’. This means it’s soft and cooked through with just a small amount of bite.

8. Consistency is key 

The finished risotto should have a loose texture that settles after it’s stirred, so add a splash more stock (or water) if it seems dry, or cook for a few minutes more if it’s too wet.

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